Dorothy Gale lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em, who were not-so-great farmers. Where Dorothy’s parents were, no one can say. The house they lived in was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon for many miles. Whenever anyone would ask why they didn’t just order the wood online, Uncle Henry would give that person a slap in the face.
The house had four walls, a floor, and a roof, which made up one room. This room contained a rusty looking cook stove, a cupboard for the dishes, a table, three or four chairs, and the beds; Uncle Henry and Aunt Em had a big bed in one corner, and Dorothy had a little bed in another corner. There was no garret at all, and…no, I have no idea what a garret is. Anyway, the house had no…look, I’m only bringing it up because the original story brought it up. I’m assuming that the fact that the house had no garret is going to be important later on. Anyway, the house had no cellar, save for a small hole dug into the ground that they could use to hide in when a cyclone came. It was reached by a trap door in the middle of the floor, from which a ladder led down into the small dark hole.
When Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor a home broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky. Everywhere, for as far as the eye could see, was nothing but a sea of gray.
“What exactly do we grow on this farm anyway?” Dorothy had once asked her Aunt Em.
“You’ve heard of horseradish, right?” Aunt Em asked.
“Yes.” Dorothy replied.
“Well, this is elephant-radish.” Aunt Em said.
“You’re drunk again, aren’t you?” Dorothy asked.
“Child, when am I ever NOT drunk?” Aunt Em replied.
When Aunt Em had come to live on the farm, she was a young, pretty wife. The Great Recession had changed that. It had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gray (except when she had been drinking, and then they were a drunk gray); it had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also.
“Why in the world do you wear gray lipstick and makeup?” Dorothy had once asked her aunt.
“Well, ever since that orange feller with the dead rat on his head became President, folks around here have started talking about all the terrible things that they were going to do to ‘colored people’. I’m not quite sure what they mean by ‘colored people’, but I’m not taking any chances.” Aunt Em replied.
Aunt Em was thin and gaunt, and never smiled. Ever. Seriously, the woman was ten different shades of creepy. When Dorothy first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child’s laughter that she had almost had the girl burned alive as a witch before saner minds stopped her. Aunt Em still looked at Dorothy as if the girl was a freak any time the girl laughed.
Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked from morning until night. He was gray too, from his gray beard to his rough boots. He looked solemn and stern, and he rarely spoke. What I’m getting at is that the man was really kind of a joyless bastard.
It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her surroundings. Toto was not gray; he was a little black dog, with long silky hair and small black eyes. You know, one of those dogs that looks more like a toy than an actual living creature. Toto played all day long and Dorothy played with him, and loved him dearly.
Today, however, they were not playing. Uncle Henry sat upon the doorstep with one of the farmhands, and Dorothy stood nearby with Toto held in her arms.
“So he said that if we couldn’t make the next payment on time, he would have no choice but to take the house.” Uncle Henry said.
“I see. Where did you hide his body?” the farmhand asked.
“The same place I hid all the others,” Uncle Henry said, “say, is that a cyclone there in the distance?”
The farmhand squinted as he looked out into the distance. “No sir, that there is a twister.”
“Are you sure that’s not a tornado, Uncle Henry?” Dorothy asked.
“Doesn’t look like one to me. If anything, it looks more like a whirlwind.” her uncle replied.
“Naw, now that I can see it better, it looks more like a dust devil.” the farmhand said.
“No, you see…” Uncle Henry started.
“Get in the shelter, you damn fools!” Aunt Em shouted from inside the house.
Toto jumped out of Dorothy’s arms and hid under the bed.
“Get back here, you dirty coward!” Dorothy shouted.
She started to get Toto out from under the bed. Aunt Em, being badly frightened, threw open the trap door and practically leaped down the ladder into the small, dark hole. Dorothy caught Toto at last and started to follow her aunt. When she was halfway across the room, there came a great shriek from the wind, and the house shook so hard that she lost her footing and fell flat on her ass.
Then, a strange thing happened.
The house whirled around two or three times and rose slowly through the air. Dorothy felt as if she was going up in a balloon. Not that Dorothy had ever been in a balloon, but still.
The north and south winds met where the house stood, and made it the exact center of the cyclone. In the middle of a cyclone the air is generally still, but the great pressure of the wind on every side of the house raised it up higher and higher, until it was at the very top of the cyclone; and there it remained and was carried for miles and miles away as easily as you could carry a feather.
“Henry, call the police!” Aunt Em shouted.
“And what am I supposed to tell them? A tornado kidnapped our niece?” Uncle Henry asked.
“Our niece is gone?” Aunt Em said.
It was very dark in the house, and the wind howled horribly around her and Toto howled back.
“Quiet, you stupid dog!” Dorothy said.
Dorothy oddly found that she was riding quite easily. After the first few whirls around, and one other time when the house tipped badly enough that she lost her lunch, Dorothy felt as if she were being rocked gently, like a mother rocking a baby she never wanted.
Toto did not like it one bit. He ran around the house barking like mad until Dorothy knocked him on the head.
“Cut it out, will you?” Dorothy said.
After a few hours passed, Dorothy started to worry about what would happen when the house fell again.
“Oh, Toto, whatever will happen to us when this house falls?” Dorothy asked.
“Eh, I’m sure we’ll be fine.” Toto barked.
“Did…did you just talk?” Dorothy asked.
“Of course not. You know as well as I do that dogs can’t talk. Don’t be silly!” the dog barked.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Dorothy said.
Eventually, Dorothy crawled over to her bed and laid down on it, and Toto laid down beside her. Despite the swaying of the house and the wailing of the wind, Dorothy closed her eyes and went to sleep.
Hey everyone! I decided to post the first chapter of my book “Make Oz Great Again” in order to announce that the audiobook version has just been released (technically the audiobook was released a week ago, but there were some events in my personal life that prevented me from posting this announcement sooner). The audiobook version is narrated by the very talented Stephanie Barton-Farcas. I’m going to list the links to where it can be found below. This is my first time adding hyperlinks to one of my posts, so I apologize if the links don’t work.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/Gregory_Inkelaar_Make_Oz_Great_Again?id=AQAAAEAMZkEmXM